Rustic White Pizza with Roasted Garlic & Mushrooms

Well, it’s been a little bit since I had a recipe for you guys to try. There’s a few behind-the-scenes things I’ve been working on for the blog that hopefully will be coming together soon. We’ve also been making great progress on our house. I plan on doing a post about the kitchen and garden once we get the last little finishing touches done.

Let’s get back to today’s recipe. I’m calling this a pizza. Some might want to call it a flatbread because it’s not round, but I’m sticking with pizza.

If you had told me to come get some pizza when I was a little kid, and you gave me this, I would have been totally bummed out. Mushrooms were always gross to me, like one of my big “no way” foods. I think a lot of picky eaters really dislike the idea of them. The way I got used to them was pizza. I’d try a little bit at a time, sometimes giving up and picking them off, but eventually, I grew to love them.

This recipe is inspired by a pizza in a restaurant in California that taught me that mushrooms are just like any other food… delicious when covered in cheese and garlic.

  • 1 full head of garlic
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups white button mushrooms
  • 2 small shallots
  • 1 store-bought pizza dough (or use your favorite recipe)
  • 1/3 cup ricotta
  • 1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp truffle oil (optional)
  • 3-4 oz fresh mozzarella
  • fresh basil for garnish
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the very top off the garlic bulb so you can see the cloves inside. Carefully remove as much of the papery outer layer as you can, without pulling the cloves apart. Place the garlic in some tin foil, with the edges curled up, and drizzle with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Wrap the bulb in the foil loosely and roast for 40 minutes, until the garlic is golden brown & fragrant. Set it aside to cool. (Do not try to squeeze out the roasted garlic yet.)
  2. While the garlic is cooking, clean and thinly slice the mushrooms. Finely mince one shallot, and thinly slice the second.
  3. On the stove top, put a Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they start to brown and shrink a bit. Add the minced shallot and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are translucent. Strain or drain as much of the excess liquid from the pan as you can, and set the cooked mushrooms aside to cool.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the ricotta, fresh thyme, truffle oil (if you don’t have truffle oil, use olive oil), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic into the mixture. Use a fork to smash the cloves and incorporate them into the ricotta.
  5. Now that all the toppings are prepped, preheat the oven to the temperature suggested on your pizza dough. (I recommend using the dough in the pop can or a homemade recipe, as opposed to a pre-cooked crust.) Grease a large sheet pan (about 16″) with olive oil before placing the dough on it. Press the dough until it’s spread evenly and covers the pan. Pre-bake for about 8 minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the crust. Next, add on the cooked mushrooms. Take a ball of fresh mozzarella and rip off small pieces. Space them out evenly over the pizza. Finally, top with the raw sliced shallots. Return it to the oven and cook another 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the crust is cooked to your liking. (Obviously, the longer you cook, the crispier it will be.)
  7. Top the pizza with freshly chopped basil, cut into squares and serve immediately.


Here’s what it looks like before cooking, so you can see the spacing of the toppings.

That seems lot of steps for a pizza, huh? It’s a word-y recipe, yes, but it doesn’t take a lot of time and effort when you are actually making it. You have that 40 minute window while the garlic is roasting to cut, prep and cook the other elements, then you just set them all aside until you are ready to assemble. You could probably make the mushrooms and the ricotta mixture a day ahead of time too.

Let’s talk about cooking the mushrooms… you have to do it. The biggest mistake people make with mushroom is just throwing them on a pizza and expecting them to cook properly with the rest of the pie. That’s how you get a bland, rubbery topping.

Your standard before & after

Cooking them beforehand brings out all the flavor and color you want, without any of that off-putting texture. (Which was a big turn-off for me back in the day.)

The roasted garlic/ricotta spread is my favorite part of this recipe. 1/3 of a cup might not seem like a lot, but you really don’t need to glob this all over. A nice, thin layer is all you need. That goes for regular pizza sauce too… a lot of times people go overboard with the marinara and you get a heavy, soggy pizza.


Once you smell that roasted garlic, you won’t miss the tomato sauce one bit

You could easily double the ricotta part of the recipe and make a couple different pizzas out of this at the same time. Hmm, I’m thinking sun-dried tomatoes, grilled zucchini and artichoke hearts. Or how about chicken with rosemary and capers? Some arugula tossed with lemon juice and prosciutto? The topping possibilities are endless with this base.

I also love a sheet pan for making pizza, mostly because I don’t have a pizza stone (yet). I am not good a stretching out a beautiful, symmetrical crust so I let the shape of the pan do the work. They say rustic is what you call food that isn’t pretty, but I think a rectangular pizza is quite nice. It’s also easier to cut into smaller pieces if you were serving this up at a party or as an appetizer.

Speaking of parties, I’ll be traveling over in the next couple of weeks to Chicago for a wedding, with a short visit to Seattle on the way. Hopefully I’ll have lots of fun stuff to share, maybe enough for a post! Or you can always follow my Instagram for extra photos and videos. In the meantime, go make a pizza!

Puff Pastry Party Food

I’m sad, but I’m happy. I’m sad that next week football season will be coming to a close, but I’m happy that my boys, the Patriots, are playing yet again. I love having people over for games, even though outside the realm of New England, it’s hard to find friends who will actually root for the Pats with me. Playful rivalries are what make watching so fun though!

No matter what team you support, everyone can agree that Super Bowl parties are a lot of fun. Why’s that? Because in my opinion, every good football party has two things: ice cold beers and amazing snacks. Beer isn’t for everyone though, so let’s talk about some easy appetizers to put out for the game.

Before I hosted a get together for the playoff last week, I was looking through my fridge for ideas for an appetizer. I found a box of frozen puff pastry sheets and all of a sudden it was no brainer.

In anticipation for the weekend, I had a container of shredded chicken that I had made in my slow cooker with buffalo sauce & diced sweet onion. To me, football and buffalo chicken go hand in hand, so I made it knowing I would use it in some dish. What I did was add some light cream cheese and mixed the buffalo chicken into it (about a 2-1 ratio of shredded chicken to cream cheese) and folded it into the puff pastry to make, essentially, a turnover.

They were good. My girl friends and I took down a platter of these in no time. Of course, being me, I had to switch it up and try to make it better. I decided to redo my puff pastry appetizers, to try to make them even easier to make and even tastier to eat.

I turned to my old friend, the muffin pan. I’m pretty sure mine has been used more for miscellaneous kitchen endeavors than actually making muffins or cupcakes. I thawed out my puff pastry sheets (usually come two in a box) and cut them into nine even squares which were lightly pressed into the muffin pan.


You don’t have to mold them too much, just make sure there’s a little of the dough going up the sides to form a bowl shape.

Here comes the fun part: stuffing them. I knew I wanted to keep going down that buffalo chicken road I started on, but then I thought, what if I made more than one kind? I could potentially make all my Super Bowl snacks at one time. Here’s what I came up with:

Buffalo Chicken

Of course. You start with shredded buffalo chicken. I make mine with chicken thighs in the slow cooker with a packet of ranch seasoning and buffalo sauce, cooked on low for about 6 hours until it falls apart easily. I added diced sweet onions this time around too, but that’s optional. You could also use rotisserie chicken tossed in sauce as a short cut. I like to make it and keep the leftovers for quesadillas, sandwiches, pizza toppings… yum.

I mixed the chicken with cream cheese (again, 2-1 ratio). All you need to fill the pastry is about a tablespoon, so consider how many you want to make when you mix the ingredients together. Once I filled them in, I topped each with a little shredded cheddar and blue cheese crumbles. Everything is better when you add some cheese.

Pizza

Who doesn’t love pizza? Plus, this is a great option for kids and for vegetarians. I simply sprinkled the puff pastry with dried oregano while it was in the pan. Then I added about a tablespoon of marinara sauce in each cup and topped it with a healthy dose of shredded mozzarella. Fill the pastry about halfway up, because it will expand and you don’t want it to overflow.

This is an easy one to customize. You could bake half of these with a slice of pepperoni on top, or do what I did and add a pickled banana pepper on top after they come out of the oven. Whatever you like on top of your pizza, throw it on there.

Again kids, would love these, any day of the week. They aren’t much harder to make than those frozen pizza bite things, and trust me, they are way more satisfying.

Cinnamon Sugar

You have to have a dessert! But who knew you could make them at the same time as the appetizers? Usually desserts can be complicated but this was the easiest one of the day. I took some more of my light cream cheese and whipped in cinnamon sugar to taste, filling each pastry with a tablespoon.

I love a dessert that isn’t overly sweet, and this was perfect to me. It was flaky and airy like a croissant but the flavor was like having a warm cinnamon bagel with cream cheese. My only regret is I was out of honey, if not I would have drizzled a little on at the end. You could also sprinkle on some powdered sugar to up the sweetness factor and make them look pretty.

I baked all three of these pastries in the same oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until they were golden brown. They all came out fantastic. Granted, if you are making a bunch you will probably need more than one muffin pan or time to do them in batches, but it’s the same cooking process for all of them.

You could make one kind, you could make all three. If you are hosting, these will cover a lot of bases. Have your friends bring some chips and salsa, maybe some veggie dip, and you’d be all set. They aren’t just for football parties either! Everyone has that box of puff pastry hanging out in the back of the freezer, doing nothing. Use it! It’s the easiest way to make something in 5 minutes that looks like it took all day.

What are some other ideas we could stuff into puff pastry? Let me know what you think, or if you try any of mine! Whatever you are doing next weekend, whether it involves the big game or not, I hope it involves great food.

Rosemary Chicken Flatbread

I’m settling in at my childhood home throughout the holiday season, living (as I call it) Full House style. We’ve got 4 adults, 2 kids and 3 dogs under one roof! It’s fun, crazy and there’s always something going on.

I was really excited to get to cook for my family. I’ve tried out some new recipes and some old. My fried shrimp tacos were a big hit for a Sunday at home watching football with the family and my sister has enjoyed taking advantage of my killer grilled cheese skills at lunch time.

It was about time for a new blog post and I was thinking about how conscious I have to be to make enough food. I’m used to cooking for my husband and myself. Granted, we usually have leftovers, but now every meal I make is for 4-6 people. I can’t skimp on anyone and I can’t go overboard every night like when I have dinner parties.

One of the easiest ways to make sure everyone gets fed is individual pizzas and flatbreads. Pizzas are usually round, with sauce and lots of cheese. Flatbreads are usually rectangular, have lighter toppings and aren’t covered in melted cheese. So I’m dubbing this recipe a flatbread. I just snuck the cheese into the sauce instead… sneaky!


Ready to go in the oven!

  • 2 13oz Pillsbury pizza doughs
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced & zested
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp fresh rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/2 red onion, quartered & thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper to season
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degree. Cut the pizza doughs in half so you have 4 equal rectangular bases and put them onto prepared baking sheets. Prebake the dough for 6 minutes and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts in half and season with onion powder, garlic powder, dried rosemary and a pinch of salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the chicken for 6-8 minutes, flipping occasionally until it begins to brown. Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and cook for an additionally minute or two before removing from heat. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces and set aside. (It’s OK if it looks slightly underdone on this inside, it will be going into the oven.)
  3. Melt the butter in the same pan as the chicken, scrapping up the browned bits. Add the minced garlic and sauté for about a minute. Pour the cream into a sauce pan, add the melted butter and garlic along with rosemary and thyme. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the parmesan cheese and increase to medium low heat, stirring until the cheese is well incorporated and the sauce is smooth.
  4. Assemble the flatbreads starting with the alfredo sauce. Spoon the sauce over the dough, starting in the center and spreading it almost to the edges. Divide the red onion and chicken equally over the flatbreads, finishing with the spinach on top.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 400 degrees until the edges are brown and dough is cooked through. Sprinkle with lemon zest and fresh basil before serving.

Fresh basil, thyme & rosemary freshen things up

Shortcut central right here, right now. Buy the Pillsbury pizza dough in a tube. Do it. Two of them make four perfectly sized entrees. The taste and texture is great too. You are making an alfredo sauce from scratch, it makes up for the store bought dough.

…Unless you don’t really want to make the sauce either. In which case, a jar of garlic alfredo sauce can be simmered with the fresh herbs if you want to make this an even easier recipe.

I would say go ahead and grab a rotisserie chicken while you’re at it, but then I don’t really have a recipe.

But just saying, this is pretty easy for a week night dinner if you use a couple shortcuts…

Making everything from scratch actually doesn’t even take that long, and I do recommend it if you have the time. The sauce and the chicken are the best parts of the dish. My brother in law was using bits of crust to soak up every bit of sauce left on his plate. I really enjoyed that the richness of the alfredo was balanced by the fragrant rosemary and the lemon. Every once in a while, you would get this bright lemon flavor that was unexpectedly fresh.

My family loved it. I loved it. It was a lot of fun to make too. I can’t wait to try out some different variations on it. Let me know if you try it out, or what your favorite kind of homemade flatbreads or pizzas are!

Buffalo Chicken Pizza

It’s been a busy and stressful week. I’ve been trying to go through the motions to change over to my married name, which has been such a pain. I’m also elbow deep in wedding thank you cards and basically getting life in order in preparation for my husband’s next deployment. Long story short, I was feeling a little low on energy and creativity in the kitchen. So instead of coming up with a brand new recipe, I decided to perfect one of my favorites.

I LOVE buffalo chicken. (You may recall during Super Bowl season I posted what my friend loving refers to as my “three part buffalo saga”.) I also LOVE pizza. Who doesn’t? The only way these two things get any better is to put them together. Yup, it’s time for buffalo chicken pizza.

  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp buffalo sauce
  • 14oz pizza dough (homemade or store bought)
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/8 cup caramelized onions*
  • 1 medium celery stalk, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • Parmesan cheese to garnish
  1. Season chicken with garlic, paprika, salt and pepper. Place in a small pot or skillet and pour in 1/4 cup buffalo sauce, turning the chicken to coat. Cook over medium low heat, turning occasionally, for about 10-15 minutes or until the chicken is easily shredded with a fork. Set shredded chicken aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the pizza dough on to a greased round baking pan. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, all the way to the edge.
  3. Spread marinara sauce onto the dough, leaving a half inch around the edge for the crust. Sprinkle on the mozzarella and top with the shredded chicken. Next, evenly distribute the onions, celery and carrots, and finish with the blue cheese crumbles. If you’d like, use the remaining Tbsp of buffalo sauce to drizzle and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese over everything.
  4. Cook for 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted.

*To carmelize an onion, combine 1 Tbsp of butter with 1 Tbsp olive oil over low heat in a sauce pan. Add a sliced onion (white or red) and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring often and scraping the pan, until they start to brown. Add a pinch of salt and deglaze the pan with 1 Tbsp of wine, vinegar or water, and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain any excess liquid. You can use these immediately or save them in a jar for a couple days in the fridge. I used a a white onion and balsamic vinegar to add sweetness to the pizza.

I have made this a lot, in a lot of different ways, but yesterday I think I really nailed it. As I was “building” this version, I thought I may have gone overboard. There is a lot of toppings. Surprisingly, the dough really held up, making it much easier to eat that it make look.


I could have just stopped at sauce, cheese & chicken…

Since I made the shredded buffalo chicken and onions, I took a short cut and used the pizza dough that comes in the tube. No shame. This is a recipe you can do a lot of prep work for the day before or morning of, so when dinner time rolls around, you just have to assemble and cook.

I was also unsure of the carrots and celery. They aren’t exactly typical pizza toppings. “Hey, delivery please. I’ll have a large pie with pepperoni, mushrooms and… celery?” But when you have wings, what do you want on the side?


Toppings for daaaaays

I set out to make this taste as much like eating buffalo chicken wings as possible, but on a pizza. And it worked. Spicy chicken, sweet onions and tomato sauce, melty mozzarella, salty blue cheese and crunchy veggies all come together for the perfect bite. I don’t mean to brag, but I would rather make this recipe than order out. My taste testers (aka husband and friends) gave it rave reviews too.

I would love to see if you try this, or any Picky Gourmet recipes! Feel free to comment or find me on social media. I had some readers share photos of my ricotta stuffed chicken from the last post, and it makes me day to know people are enjoying my food. Happy cooking everyone!

Easy Pizza Sauce

I hope everyone has recovered from Super Bowl Sunday! Along with the snacks, I made two simple pizzas yesterday that were deeeeelish. Luckily there was so much food, I have a couple slices leftover for my lunch today. Score!

Today I’m going to share my recipe for pizza sauce. I made a fairly traditional margherita and a spicy arugula pie, so it’s actually two sauce recipes in one post. You can decide which to try… or, c’mon, make both. Two pizzas are always better than one.

Yields sauce for two 12″ pizzas

  • 6oz can tomato paste
  • 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

To make it a spicy sauce you will need:

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  1. Combine tomato paste, diced tomatoes, oregano, garlic, paprika and Italian seasoning in a bowl and stir until all ingredients are well mixed.
  2. Optional: if you prefer a smoother sauce rather than a rustic, chunky sauce, put the mixture into a blender or food processor and pulse until it’s the desired consistency.

That’s it! No need to heat this at all, it does all the cooking in the oven. At this point, I divided the sauce and spread half of it on my first dough. I topped it with fresh mozzarella slices and torn basil leaves. Next up, spicy arugula.

  1. Stir black pepper, cayenne and red pepper flakes into remaining sauce.

It couldn’t be easier. If you want the whole batch of sauce to be spicy, just add a little extra to the peppery ingredient amounts, mix it all in at the start and taste as you go.

My second pizza had the spicy sauce and I simply sprinkled on some grated Parmesan cheese. Both pies baked for about 10 minutes at 450 degrees, but make sure you follow instructions for whatever kind of dough you are using. I usually make my own from scratch, but I cheated and used the store bought kind this time. It was a busy day! Don’t judge me!

When they were done cooking, I put a little more fresh basil onto the margherita. This is perfect for fans of a plain pizza, but so much better than using shredded processed cheese. The spicy pizza was finished off with two handfuls of fresh baby arugula. At first, the tough guys thought this looked like a salad more than a pizza, but the heat from the sauce and the peppery greens take this a long way from boring. It’s a flavor bomb!

I asked my guests and my social media followers which team they were on, and I was actually shocked that the spicy arugula was the clear winner here! So try these two, or your own, pizza creations at home and have a vote. It’s a fun and easy for a party or even a weeknight family dinner that everyone will love.

{follow me on twitter & instagram: @thepickygourmet}

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